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Set default environment for root

Posted on 2008-10-01
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-27
I've set /etc/passwd so that /bin/bash is my shell for both the normal user as well as root. I've set up /etc/profile with a number of parameters i need (ex PATH, umask, PS1). When i log in with my user, i am assiging those settings. If i 'su -', i am also assigned those env settings.

However, if i just 'su' i lose them and get a default PATH of /usr/sbin:/usr/bin. interestingly, umask setting stays put.

Any ideas what's going on here?
Question by:ixarissysadmin
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 22614324
From the su manpage:

If the first argument to su is a dash (-), the environment will be changed to what would be expected if the user actually logged in as the specified user. Otherwise, the environment is passed along, with the exception of $PATH,  which is controlled by PATH and SUPATH in /etc/default/su.


Author Comment

ID: 22615224
i did unhash SUPATH in that file and set it as i need, but nothing  changed.
LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 22617267
Do yo have .profile in roots home directory ( / ) ?
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 22620510
when you do su - then the system will simulate full root login and read /etc/profile , /.profile , etc. while su alone will just switch the userid to root with the same env.

Expert Comment

ID: 22621636
the - in the su command is optional. If you want to have the environment of the user you are switching to you would use the su -.Just doing an su will only give you the privileges of the user without importing any environment variables.

Check for /.bash_profile

Author Comment

ID: 22623555
no i don't have  a /.profile; nor a /.bash_profile

when i just 'su' my PATH changes to the default as stated above, whereas i want to change it.
LVL 13

Accepted Solution

Rowley earned 1500 total points
ID: 22623783
Have you remembered to comment out the PATH and SUPATH lines in /etc/default/su and set these up as desired? Works as expected for me...
# id
uid=0(root) gid=0(root)
# echo $PATH
# su 
# echo $PATH
# grep SUPATH /etc/default/su
# SUPATH sets the initial shell PATH variable for root
# SUPATH=/usr/sbin:/usr/bin
# vi /etc/default/su
# grep SUPATH /etc/default/su
# SUPATH sets the initial shell PATH variable for root
# su 
# echo $PATH
# ls -l /etc/default/su
-rw-r--r--   1 root     sys         1618 Oct  2 13:59 /etc/default/su
# uname -a
SunOS unknown 5.11 snv_97 i86pc i386 i86pc
# su - admin
Sun Microsystems Inc.   SunOS 5.11      snv_97  November 2008
-bash-3.2$ echo $PATH
-bash-3.2$ su admin
bash-3.2$ echo $PATH
bash-3.2$ exit
# vi /etc/default/su
# grep ^PATH /etc/default/su
# su admin 
# echo $PATH

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